The way he has gone about establishing Ubuntu as the desktop Linux distribution most in demand by enthusiasts is remarkable. And he is now quietly beginning to muscle in on the enterprise market.
One trait has stood him in good stead and will continue to help him and his company, Canonical, make headway - patience. He has always shown himself willing and able to wait for the right moment to do something. Time appears to be of little importance to him; he has a goal and he intends to attain it.
Shuttleworth's arrival at the point where he has started slowly sewing up deals to push Ubuntu more and more into the business sector reminds me of the fable of the camel and the tailor. In case you, gentle reader, are unfamiliar with it, this is a tale of how a camel comes upon a tailor in a tent in the desert and slowly manages to manouevre his way into the tent and eject the tailor.
Much in the same way, there has been nothing very loud or noisy about Ubuntu - it has depended on word of mouth to spread the word and its users have ensured that there would be no need for commercial advertising. Shuttleworth has been very good in handling the media - who have mostly given him a free ride - and that has paid off in spades. People who have been seen to be unfit for pushing the virtues of Ubuntu have been quietly jettisoned.
But when any media outlet is deemed less than friendly, then the Canonical tune changes. PR people jump through hoops to avoid contact. Gerry Carr, the PR man in London, recently did a number of contortions to avoid fixing up a meeting between me and the CTO of the company, Matt Zimmermann. But then I have never been a cheerleader for Ubuntu or for any distribution for that matter.
(In sharp contrast, the leader of the Debian project, Steve McIntyre, made time to meet me in London on the one free day he had after a long time. But then he isn't a PR droid.)
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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.